Gambling Research Australia Releases Result Of Online Gambling StudyApril 11, 2014 1:00 pm
Despite having a small population of just 23 million people, Australia has the highest adult gambling rate in the world with more than 80% of Australians involved in some gambling activity. Each year the country generates $4.6 billion in gambling revenue, two thirds of which comes from slot machines, known as pokies.
Despite a vibrant land-based casino industry, online gambling is controlled by the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, which makes it an offense for gambling companies to offer ‘real-money’ internet gambling to Australian citizens. Like most other countries, however, Australia’s online gambling industry operates within a grey area in which residents are not considered to have commited an offence by accessing these gambling websites.
Three years ago the Australian government then commissioned Gambling Research Australia to conduct a study of online gambling in order to determine whether to embrace a regulated and licensed online gambling market in the country. The company subsequently surveyed the gambling habits of 19,594 Australians, and recently released its findings in a 432 page report.
Amongst the interesting conclusions reached in the report entitled “Interactive Gambling” was that sports betting, online casino games, and lottery were all more popular online gambling choices than poker, and that just 0.6% of those people questioned were considered problem gamblers.
In addition, insufficient evidence existed to suggest a link between online gambling and an increase in the rate of problem gamblers, although the study did note the possibility related problems could arise over time as gamblers, enticed by promotional offers, found it easier to access and gamble on the sites. This could then result in an increase in problem gambling due to the “convenience and ease of access, ability to play in private, high speed continuous gambling, player incentives and advertising, and the immersive nature of the Internet.”
Interestingly, the report also found the group of gamblers least at risk of developing gambling problems was online poker players, with but three of the thirty one problem gamblers interviewed being poker players. In addition, land-based poker players were more likely to suffer serious gambling problems than their online counterparts, on account of the preponderances of highly addictive slot machines located in the casinos. As Dr. Sally Gainsbury of the Centre for Gambling Education and Research, notes:
“It shows that there are different risk factors, so some of the predictors of greater problems online are younger, male and betting on sports and races. In comparison, problem gamblers that are land-based are more likely to use the pokies.”